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Fatboy Slim presents...
The Beach Party 2006
Your step-by-step guide to the party of the year hosted by the King of the Big Beat himself, Mr. Fatboy Slim, at the East Strand Beach in Portrush...

1. The masses gather, Beach Party is go!
Pessimists had been predicting the worst for weeks. There'd be riots/multiple arrests/freak weather/a laughably bad turnout (delete as appropriate) they said, choosing to stay indoors and be miserable. In fact, there was nothing more than a proper, honest-to-God party vibe about the place. No aggro and plenty of smiles. Like any event of this nature, there was more than the odd over-indulgence and (literally) a handful of arrests. But all in all, it was arguably the best-behaved crowd that's attended a music event of this size in Northern Ireland, ever. Bring it on.

2. Chris Frieze and Marty Pelan get us nicely toasted
Chris and Marty have been doing decent warm ups for big names back in Belfast for years and deserved their big moment more than any. And while the likes of Dead Prez and Blackalicious were played just as the gates opened, a few housier moments and dashes of old-skool soul got a fair few down the front early on. Job's a good 'un.

3. Col throws a curveball
The local favourite was always going to have it easiest. One of the biggest cheers of the day may have welcomed him to the decks, but that didn't make for any complacency. Col's set began pretty safe, reeling out the kind of tunes wrecking Lush! week in, week out. But then he drops a gorgeous, epic remix of Snow Patrol's �Eyes Open' which we're told Col produced himself. And the biggest curve ball of the day is The Automatic's �Monster' - re-jigged for the occasion.

Who'd have thought a reasonably new indie band would bring Col Hamilton's set to such a splendid, crashing conclusion. The first "moment" of the day.

4. Yes, you could also dance on the actual beach
Even though you couldn't really see the stage from the beach, it was still the place to be, for a while at least. A volleyball court, plenty of shade, a sound system inside a truck and an extra bar were all set up for the occasion. These little details were crucial - it made this a proper event.

5. Annie Mac adds a little glamour
She played a blinder. A welcomed addition to a bill made up of sweaty men who should maybe know better, Annie proved her overnight rise to stardom was no lucky stumble. That nasty Boys Noise remix of Bloc Party was in there, a few obvious cuts to get the party started (Basement Jaxx �Do Your Thing') and the odd classic (Les Rythmn Digitales, �Music Makes You Lose Control'). It's not rocket science what Annie did, but she still managed to totally outshine the DJs that followed - a solid but unadventouous set from Jon Carter and a predictable, bore-fest courtesy of Timo Mass.

6. Audiobullys shout, Portrush shouts back louder
Audiobullys live is essentially one bloke playing karaoke versions of his bands records on a CDJ, while another bloke shouts greetings and obscenities, as loud as he possibly can. Works for me, and pretty much all of Portrush, and for the first time today, things really get going. Hard not to go a bit mental when you're being egged on this much, especially while hearing snatches of �We Don't Care', �Real Life' and �Shot You Down'. They have more big tunes than you'd think, this lot and today those tunes sounded bigger than ever. Sometimes the simplest, dumbest things are the most fun.

7. The clouds hold it in
Despite a disapproving sprinkle during Audiobullys, those menacing clouds behaved themselves for the duration. The weather was good enough to make sure everyone could be as scantily clad as they liked, but cool enough to avoid creating a sea of pink faces. Once Fatboy Slim played his last record, the heavens opened. It was as if they'd been holding it in for us all day long.

8. The most enthusiastic MC on the planet
Alan Simpson runs mega-club Lush! and was voted Mr. Portrush the ten years in a row. He likes to talk. He likes to remind people how great things are, how loud things are and how lucky we all are to be in the same place, at the same time. He's saying "Rio" and "Portrush" in the same sentence and claiming we're standing by the best beach on the planet. The crowd, or at least most of the crowd, love what he's doing and react accordingly. Hilariously, he later chats to ATL and claims he "doesn't actually like talking in front of a big crowd."

9. Finally, the moment arrives
We all know he's not the most mind-blowingly gifted DJ on the planet, and mores the point he ain't released a decent tune in about seven years. But honestly, it doesn't matter - this was pretty much the perfect party set. And armed with some magnificent visuals and a bleedin' firework display to take him home, it was always going to work. And to his credit, in amongst some blatantly mammoth tunes (and a heap of his own records), he was dropping Cream, Prince and Lou Reed. For that, we applaud thee.

As for that uncreative DJing? Well, firstly, here's a guy still using nowt but a pair of 1210's. He's the Jack White of the dance world, and Jack White gets nothing but props for keeping his equipment "traditional", so why not throw some respect Norm's way? And secondly, he had an endless supply of sneaky edits, remixes and booties in his record bag, no doubt made just for the occasion back in his Brighton studio. The hard work had already been done. Finally, this was his party. As in, he was involved at every point - from a late night walk along the beach with Alan Simpson a couple of years back, to chats with the council, to worrying about everyone's safety on the day. He has a lot to answer for.

10. A little effort goes a long way
Call it naivety or wide eyed enthusiasm (which could eventually wear off) but the team of promoters responsible for the Beach Party actually cared about the people coming to their event. Security were warned to treat people the very best, and the lay-out of bars and loos was carefully considered to keep everyone ticking over nicely. Money was spent on big screens, fireworks, extra lights and all sorts of things which didn't necessarily sell extra tickets. And as the day reached its insane conclusion, the promoters were heard to discuss how things could be improved for "next year".

Next year?! How exciting. If you missed this big day out - don't make the same mistake twice. So yeah, Bring it on again. "Next year"?!

That poor little town will never be the same again.

Photos by Rigsy and Mattie

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Gig Details
Venue: East Strand Beach
Location: Portrush
Date: 17/6/2006

+ Interview with Fatboy Slim (pt.1)
+ Interview with Fatboy Slim (pt.2)
+ Interview with Fatboy Slim (pt.3)

+ Beach Beach Party montage
+ Fatboy Slim interview

Line Up
Fatboy Slim
Audio Bullys
Annie Mac
Col Hamilton
Chris Frieze & Marty Pelan

MC - Alan Simpson